The word hypnosis normally brings into mind the picture of the mysterious character depicted in the movies and mystery books. Generally, this ominous hypnotist makes strange gestures near the face of the subject or swings his chained pocket clock like a pendulum and asks the subject to stare at it. Very soon the subject is in a trance or semi sleep like state and obeys every command of the hypnotist with utmost obedience, no matter how strange or ridiculous the command is.
However, in reality this popular depiction is quite far from the real hypnotism. Subjects in a hypnotic state do not “lose their brain” and become the slaves to their “masters.” Neither are they really in a semi-sleep state – they’re actually in a hyper-attentive state.
While mystics and meditators have been known to enter hypnotic like state since ancient times, the modern concept originated in late 1700s, after an Austrian physician, Franz Mesmer. He believed that hypnosis is a mystical force flowing from the hypnotist into the subject. It is this faulty idea that was glamorized in the novels and movies. Hypnosis was originally known as mesmerism, after Mesmer. Its derivative “mesmerize” is still used today. A 19th-century Scottish surgeon, James Braid, coined the term “hypnotism” based on the Greek word hypnos for “to sleep.” Braid along with other scientists theorized that hypnosis is not a force inflicted by the hypnotist, but a combination of psychologically mediated responses to suggestions.
Although hypnosis has become well-known thanks to movies and performances where people are prompted to performs unusual or ridiculous actions, the technique has also been clinically proven to provide medical and therapeutic benefits, most notably in the reduction of pain and anxiety.
What is Hypnosis?
This simple question does not a simple answer. As yet there is no universally accepted answer despite the debate for over 200 years. We know what people do under hypnosis but how and why exactly they behave that way is a puzzle. However, psychiatrists do understand the general characteristics of hypnosis and are able to describe it. Rather than a trance like state, hypnosis is better expressed as a state characterized by focused attention, heightened suggestibility and vivid fantasies. Another common characteristic is that subject is cut off the usual stimuli around him.
A hypnotic state of mind is a very normal mental state – when the conscious mind is “tuned down.” For instance, it is often compared to the mental state when you “lose yourself” in a book or movie; you are so absorbed that you don’t notice things happening around you. Another example is highway hypnosis – you have driven for several miles, but cannot remember the journey. It was as if you were on ‘autopilot’. You were driving in a state of oblivion.
When a sportsman is on top form, he is said to be “in the zone” when every action becomes so easy and effortless, that he hardly has to think about it. There are sports persons like Tiger Woods who use this sports hypnosis to reach and sustain the top of their game.
Experts often compare deep hypnosis to the relaxed mental state between wakefulness and sleep. It is a special mental state where people feel relaxed and uninhibited; probably they are tune out of the usual worries and doubts that normally keep them under check. The same thing happens when people are absorbed watching a movie or reading a book. As they are engrossed in the plot, worries about job, family, etc. fade away.
In this state, they are also highly suggestible; the subjects obediently follow the hypnotist. Since they are out of their normal mental inhibition, the fear of embarrassment seems to have vanished completely. Normally reserved and shy individuals start acting bold as suggested. Whatever picture the hypnotist paints through his words, the subject believes it and takes it for real. This is here, for example, the possibility of mental transformation. However, subject’s sense of safety and morality remain present throughout the hypnotic state and the hypnotist can’t make them do anything against their wishes.
The total opposite of this state of mind is where you are self conscious. This is where you are consciously thinking too much about what you are doing. It is where you feel nervous and self-conscious and everything seems so fumbling and full of hurdles. For instance, often some people have difficulty approaching and talking to attractive members of the opposite sex. This is an example of mental barrier that can be easily worked out using hypnosis.
The process of Hypnosis
Usually the initial step is building rapport and trust with the subject. Being a good, considerate and knowledgeable person really does help. Here the personality of the hypnotist and his skill in rapport building plays important roles.
Once this rapport is established, a hypnotherapist will induce a relaxed mental state and close subjects eyes. The hypnotherapist normally achieves this through progressive relaxation through careful suggestions. This calms the subconscious mind and slows down the thinking process. In this state, the subject is still aware of what’s going on, but his/her conscious mind takes a backseat and allows the subconscious mind to dominate. Now the hypnotist can talk directly to the subconscious mind of the subject. It is the conscious mind that is inhibitive and filtering, it applies brakes; the subconscious mind deals with imagination, impulse and intuition. When the subconscious mind is in control, the subject feels much freer and more open. The subject reacts automatically to suggestions of the hypnotist, as he would to his own thoughts.
The subconscious always remains in intimate contact with the body sensations including taste, touch and sight, as well as with emotional feelings. When the conscious mind is stilled the door to the subconscious is open, and the hypnotist can trigger all these feelings. The subject can experience the taste of a chocolate milkshake, hear sounds and experience many other feelings.
Additionally, the subconscious is the storehouse of past memories. Therefore, under hypnosis subjects may be able to recall totally forgotten past events. Psychiatrists may use hypnotism to bring up these memories to resolve related personal problem. Since the subject’s mind is in highly receptive state, hypnotist’s suggestions have deep impact. A hypnotherapist can communicate with this mind using many techniques such as metaphors, creating imagery or story telling etc in order to bring a change that has been agreed upon earlier with the subject.
Subjects are often surprised that they could actually hear most of what was said, and could even move their fingers when they wanted to. They can even stand up at any point if they really want to. However it is often such an enjoyably peaceful experience that most people just don’t want to open their eyes or stand up.
What is the Impact of Hypnosis?
The experience of hypnosis can vary significantly from one person to another. Some people report feeling a sense of detachment or extreme relaxation during the hypnotic state, others feel that their actions seem to occur outside of their conscious volition. Some individuals may remain fully aware and can carry out conversations while under hypnosis.
Researchers have demonstrated that hypnosis can be used to dramatically alter perceptions. For instance, after instructing subjects to not feel pain in the arm, their arms were placed in ice water. They were able to leave their arms in the ice water for several minutes without experiencing pain. Simultaneously, the non-hypnotized people could only keep their arms under water for only few seconds due to the pain.
How Can Hypnosis Help?
Hypnosis can help in just about anything you sincerely want it to do. Hypnosis is very versatile tool to directly access the subconscious mind. In the hypnotic state suggestions are easily accepted as fact which enables significant change in thinking and emotional behavior. Thus, it is a practical, effective way of developing or retraining lifelong attitudes and behavioral patterns.
The most popular applications of hypnosis are for pain and stress reduction. The term “pain” covers a range of conditions, from physical distress that can be quantifiably measured to the emotional agony of grief, depression and loss that can really only be imagined by an observer. In the year 1958, the American Medical Association (AMA) acknowledged hypnosis to be a psychological and scientific modality and validated it as a productive tool for the treatment of persons experiencing both physical and psychological distress.
The inability to control eating habits (and thus causing obesity) is probably the most popular reason people are drawn to hypnosis. In fact, hypnosis is often a last-ditch effort to gain control after all other methods have failed. By that time, the problem is often compounded by feelings of shame and frustration that diets and pep talks can’t relieve. Hypnosis is effective not only because it identifies the root cause for overeating buried in the subconscious mind, but also because it offers an alternative behavior pattern. The same method of discovery and redirection applies to any kind of unwanted behavior – from simple shyness to addictions to phobias to unsatisfactory relationships.
Hypnosis can remove subconscious blocks and provide positive reinforcement; thus, it can help you achieve physical, mental, and spiritual growth. It can help you improve your memory, learn how to meditate, maintain a fitness program, increase your performance in profession, sports and academics and even sharpen your powers of concentration.
Besides, there are many other medical conditions where hypnosis has been applied successfully. More specifically hypnosis has been applied for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis pain, during child birth and dental procedures, dementia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and so on. Read more detail Miscellaneous Medical Applications of Hypnosis
The best way to really explore hypnosis is to actually experience it. There are many ways to do this. You can learn how to do self-hypnosis, hire a hypnotherapist, or buy a hypnosis audio session. Once you have experienced it for yourself, you will understand what it is all about. The wild and mystical stories that you may have read for many years will start to seem ridiculous and inaccurate. You will realize that most of the hype surrounding hypnosis is actually plainly untrue. However, you may still have difficulty explaining to someone else exactly what it is.
Do Hypnosis Downloads Work?
If done correctly, a pre recorded hypnotherapy session can be very powerful. Internet is filled with feedback from people who are happy with the recordings. Live sessions with well trained hypnotists is certainly going to be more effective, but significantly costlier too. It is also a fact that many people feel shy or embarrassed in approaching a hypnotherapist. Besides privacy and convenience of shopping, a downloadable recording is instantly available.
Hypnosis downloads also usually have pleasant background music which helps deepen the levels of relaxation. In fact if produced with care, the audio sessions can combine elements of music therapy alongside hypnotherapy to produce a really powerful and effective therapeutic session.
They can also be listened to almost anywhere you wish. You can easily pop them on an MP3 player or iPod, and listen to them at the beach or in a garden for example. If you have not already tries one, why not give some thought to your needs and pick one. You never know, it could provide the catalyst for some life changing transformation that you have been waiting for.